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“Liberals celebrate the new level of vigor and intrusiveness in national policymaking, and conservatives regret it; but whichever group’s judgment proves correct, the fact of the change indicates that our political system today is not what James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, or even Harry Truman would have recognized. The chief mystery of contemporary politics is how such a fundamental change was possible.”
James Q. Wilson is one of America’s preeminent public policy scholars. For decades, he has analyzed the changing political and cultural landscape with clarity and honesty, bringing his wisdom to bear on all facets of American government and society. American Politics, Then & Now is a collection of fifteen of Wilson’s most insightful essays–drawing on thirty years of his observations on religion, crime, the media, terrorism and extremism, and the old-fashioned notion of “character.” Readers of every political persuasion will come away from this volume with a new understanding of how American politics and culture have evolved over the last half-century.
These essays are not “the grumpy words of a conservative who can’t be reconciled to the realities of contemporary American life,” Wilson writes. Rather, they are straight talk from a painstaking empiricist and consummate social scientist who believes in American exceptionalism. American Politics, Then & Now is a compelling portrait of a beloved nation.
Praise for American Politics, Then & Now
“All of us who write about politics today know this: To be a political commentator in James Q. Wilson’s era is to know how Mel Torme must have felt being a singer in Frank Sinatra’s era. We are all competing for the silver medal. Wilson has won the gold. These essays show why.”
–George F. Will
“For over forty years, James Q. Wilson has been America’s leading public intellectual–and perhaps the world’s. Touching on almost every important aspect of our politics, public policy, national character, morality, and culture, these masterful essays draw together his own encyclopaedic command of the social facts, the imperishable political wisdom of Aristotle, and the felicitous wit and concision of Dr. Johnson. They will reward thoughtful readers generations after today’s pompous pundits are long forgotten.”
–Peter H. Schuck, Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law, Yale University
“The publication of these essays–including the classic ‘The Rediscovery of Character’–is an event to be celebrated. Whether you agree or disagree with his interpretation of American politics, James Q. Wilson never fails to illuminate and provoke.”
–William A. Galston, senior fellow, the Brookings Institution
James Q. Wilson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2003. He received a lifetime achievement award from the American Political Science Association and the Bradley Prize from the Bradley Foundation. Wilson lectures at Pepperdine University and Boston College and was previously a professor of government at Harvard and a professor of management and public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the chairman of the Council of Academic Advisers of the American Enterprise Institute.
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